TrueHeartWork | Mary Oliver
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Mary Oliver Tag

Pisces 11

Swim inward, Swim outward—Sun in Pisces—February 18th

So, this is how you swim inward. So, this is how you flow outwards. So, this is how you pray―Mary Oliver.

Pisces new moon 23For those of us who like our lives anchored by certainty, the world may seem a precarious place right now. As our plans are sucked into the undertow, we may be cast adrift from the raft of our faith.

The Sun enters Pisces on February 18th. In the archetypal journey around the zodiac, we’re invited to wear our mermaid tails and adorn our hair with sea shells. In Pisces, we dive deep into opaque waters where music and poetry melt walls that divide. We may experience, in the words of Eckhardt Tolle, “all things that truly matterbeauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peacearise from beyond the mind.”

Pisces is not an easy constellation to see with the naked eye. And in our birth chart, Pisces planets or the house with Pisces on the cusp, may be concealed by louder or more overtly visible planetary archetypes. A rumbustious Aries Sun or dutiful Capricorn Moon may be more comfortable in a world where we compare, compete, and have a “nice day”. Julia Cameron, writes, “The voice of our original self is often muffled, overwhelmed, even strangled, by the voices of other people’s expectations.”  We may hesitate at the water’s edge, admiring other people’s creativity, their altruism, their faith. We may disown our Pisces planets as the outer world presses it’s concerns into the sanctum of our intuition. We may not notice the signs and the symbols and pack away our childish magical thinking and innocent imaginings.

Pisces 8

Perceptions may shift, new insights may wash to the shore of our consciousness, or ambiguity, uncertainty and confusion may swirl around us as we swim in uncharted waters.  A faerie-circle of golden spring crocuses waiting expectantly for the bees may remind us that everything is interconnected.  A homeless woman, hollow-eyed, thinner than her beloved dog, may stir our compassion. The mute suffering of factory-farmed animals may compel us to be more discerning about the food we choose to buy. Searing temperatures, drought and fire, may prompt community spirit.

Pisces is where we journey to those soulful regions of our psyche, those places where we encounter mysterious daimons, and where powerful currents of emotion  surge like a rip-tide, shattering our peace, bringing us to our knees. In this underwater realm, we hear the songs of the whales, the whisper of the sea grasses, the prayers of our ancestors who lie full fathom five.

As we immerse ourselves into this sphere of water this month, there are sea changes that reflect the swelling tide of worldly events.

Chiron changes sign, moving from Pisces into Aries on February 18th. Chiron’s story is a tragedy. In-spite of his goodness, his wisdom, his generosity, he is accidentally wounded.

7971a7cf8f077f43e056807a18226f23Chiron, in our birth chart,  represents that place where we are maimed, irrevocably scarred, by the unfairness of life, where we discover that bad things do happen to extremely good people and that what goes around doesn’t always come around in any satisfactory or just kind of way.

Chiron will remain in Aries until 2027, having emerged from Pisces and bringing out from the murky waters an existential pain, a reminder of our human flaw, perhaps the guilt or sense of unworthiness we thought we had dealt with in therapy years ago. Collectively, Chiron in Aries necessitates a brave and radical approach and understanding to the problems that plague us personally and globally. Chiron was in Aries during theRoaring Twentieswhich brought prohibition, Jazz and the Charleston. The babies born to sexually free, bobbed haired mothers, were raised in the hard knock time of the euphemistically named, “Great Depression”.

Chiron was in Aries from the late sixties to 1977—as students protested and napalm in Vietnam scorched the earth. This was the turbulent time of the counter culture movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. As Black Consciousness stirred in South Africa, a tide of frustration broke through the cement walls of apartheid, and the Soweto student uprising on June 16th 1976 marked the beginning of the end of a system that has left a ridge of scar tissue on the psyche of a nation.

On February 19th the Full Virgo Moon (0° Virgo) casts her discerning light over our human foibles, pares down our wishful thinking with her keen intelligence and attention to detail. The zero degree of this lunation is significant. It marks the culmination of a cycle and the beginning of a new one as the Moon trines Uranus at 29 degrees Aries and forms a quincunx with Chiron. Our healing journey has only just begun. Virgo represents the self-possessed Feminine aspect of ourselves. Virgo is associated with the earth, with our care for all living things. Without any fanfare, she gets to work, cleans up the mess, weeds the garden. Then plants one precious seed at a time. This Full Moon illuminates the polarity between Pisces and Virgo. It is also a reminder of the precision, the  perfect timing of nature, as we marvel at a convent of wimpled snowdrops, or a robin’s egg nestled in the mossy curve of a branch.

On Sunday, February 10th, Mercury dipped into the deep waters of Pisces (11°) and will join Neptune in a phosphorescent conjunction at 15° Pisces on February 19th.

Pisces 124In Pisces, Mercury drapes our dreams in silken images that sparkle and inspire. He withdraws from worldly concerns, submerged in fantasy, delighting in music, art or poetry. He aids emotive expression of our thoughts, our feelings, our heartfelt concerns. Yet, we can also be prey to delusion, confusion and misunderstandings in those deep and often murky waters where the two fish swim.

By March 5th, Mercury is moving slowly. He stations, and goes Retrograde, moving right back to that conjunction with Neptune from March 24th to April 2nd. He remains in Retrograde until March 30th and will enter the fire of Aries on April 17th, an opportunity to suspend our skepticism, to re-write the narrative of our lives and move toward “what if” … “what could be” …

There’s a much-quoted passage in Alice Through the Looking Glass, where Alice says to the White Queen, “There’s no use trying…one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

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As Jupiter blazes confidently through Sagittarius this year, we may have ample opportunity to dream our wildest dream, to practice believing six impossible things before breakfast. To test the validity of our optimism for the third and final time in September 2019 when Jupiter and Neptune make their final square.

Our challenge will to remain alert to the moray eels, the sharp shards of shell concealed beneath the opaque waters of Pisces.

As the tethered fish of Pisces draw us deeper, may they guide our prayers and direct our faith, so that we can hold on tight to our dreams.

 

For private astrology consultation, please email me: ingrid@trueheartwork.com

I post regularly on Facebook. If you would like to receive these posts, I will send these updates to you, with Love.

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dance 21

Basic Instinct

Jupiter in Scorpio—October 10, 2017 to November 8, 2018

butterfly_ashevilleJupiter crosses into Scorpio on October 10, 2017, and swims through Scorpio’s dark waters until November 8, 2018.

Words like optimism, abundance, “good luck”, generosity and excess cling to Jupiter’s corpulent mass. In Scorpio’s frozen waters, quick-fixes and cheery New Age platitudes just won’t stick. Jupiter in Scorpio amplifies our preoccupation with those things that prefer the cover of darkness: Sex, the use and the misuse of power, the criminal underworld, in-depth psychology and death.

In Scorpio we confront our sex drive, rampant or dormant, and genital brute force—rape, violent pornography, fetishes that go way beyond kinky experimentation, and adultery. In Scorpio we confront issues of trust and betrayal. This month, as Jupiter crosses the line, sex therapist Esther Perel releases her new book on sexual transgression—The State of Affairs. Drs. John and Julie Gottman use their Trust Revival Method to champion couples after the rupture of adultery.

The word, Adultery comes from Latin meaning “to pollute, or corrupt.” With Jupiter in Scorpio we must ask ourselves penetrating questions—what is polluted? Trust? Ownership? A vow or a covenant?

“There is some kiss we want with our whole lives,” wrote Rumi. It may take the sweet kiss of just one person to awaken us from our slumber. It may take the catalyst of an affair to expose the cracks in the chalice of our marriage. The tender memory of the lover’s embrace may bruise our skin for years to come, long after the albatross of the affair has been killed and thrown into the ocean depths. Poet Mary Oliver wrote about the affair her life partner, Molly Malone Cook, had just before they met— “She had an affair that struck deeply; I believe she loved totally and was loved totally. I know about it, and I am glad… This love, and the ensuing emptiness of its ending, changed her. Of such events we are always changed — not necessarily badly, but changed. Who doesn’t know this doesn’t know much.”

78d7c9801a2c0b64d5b70dd87814e6f4Sexual intimacy reveals our deepest vulnerabilities and ardent longings. Sex is more than an exchange of body fluids with Jupiter in Scorpio’s realm.

Jupiter expands our wanting and our longing. What have we  been settling for?  In committed partnerships it may be missing passion, mediocre sex. The energy of Scorpio requires uncompromising depth and true intimacy that can only be achieved with wisdom.

As we arrive at the crossroads of choice, do we risk all for passion, adventure, the unknown, when the rugged terrain of a long relationship has been charted, cohabited? Jupiter’s 13-month passage through Scorpio offers us a deadly serious choice: Do we risk it all to leap like a salmon over the rocks, tumble up waterfalls following our instincts as a new impetus of growth calls us to swim as if our life depends on it. And it often does.

If we’re the one that leaves, our parting of ways will involve a dismemberment of the life we knew. An annihilation of our old self. There will be dark nights when we wake with fear gnawing through our belly. Jupiter in Scorpio will bring the flotsam and jetsam of our lives to the shore of consciousness; are we willing to sift with reverence along the tidal zone ?

ff16e95348c6e06bbb4bb7392ea22a37Self-growth is seldom as simple as leaving the husk of a desiccated relationship, changing jobs, walking the Camino, or falling in love with someone new. It’s an arduous task, which requires endurance… and courage. Unless we’re willing to look honestly at ourselves, merely switching partners will bring us back to the same issues we tried to escape from with our previous partner, often leaving us marooned, stripped of our innocence. But if we are conscious and serious about the tugging at our hearts, there are rich lessons in each new relationship, as we retrieve the long-buried parts of ourselves.

Jupiter intensifies and distills our urgent wanting. We desire quality, not wasteful quantity. Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes, “One of the most important discriminations we can make in this matter is the difference between things that beckon to us and things that call from our souls. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the choice of mates and lovers. A lover cannot be chosen a la smorgasbord. A lover has to be chosen from soul-craving. To choose just because something mouth-watering stands before you will never satisfy the hunger of the soul-self. And that is what the intuition is for; it is the direct messenger of the soul.”

dance 10When, at last, we come to trust our own instincts, hear and respect our own voices, feel valuable enough to touch that fertile, erotic, vulnerable part of our self, buried beneath the sediments of cultural conditioning, we dare to risk bursting into blossom.

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This Love Again

macaroons

We talk glibly of Love as if it can be bought like a bag of pastel-coloured macaroons. Or conjured up by a psychic who says, deftly spreading a well-worn deck of cards: “now let’s look at the love-life!”

We talk flippantly of Love as if Love can be compartmentalised into shine ona neat life.  As if Love is a play-thing, to put aside when we tire of it, or it becomes too big and boisterous. We window-shop for Love on dating sites. Foolishly mistake Love for Sex.  Balk at provocative choices. Terrified we may expose our soft-bellied vulnerability, we manacle ourselves with the cold steel fear of rejection, memories of past betrayals, disappointments. We play it safe, never daring to throw the dice lest we score too high for comfort.

Then one new day, we awake to find our fervent prayers have been answered by a benevolent god. How we tremble and shake in unspeakable terror as we stand on the precipice; afraid to take that giant leap, to tumble weightlessly into Love. Afraid to do what it takes to be with the one we cannot be without.

Love, like old age, and death, is not for the squeamish. To fall into Love requires valour. To stay in Love demands tenacity.

Science attempts to measure the power of love by assigning our light-headed wholehearted omnipotence and euphoria to dopamine and oxytocin. Those delectable mood-altering chemicals that flood our brains, bathe our cells in Ecstasy. Our right (emotionally intuitive) brain, lights up like a Christmas tree, our left ( logic and language) brain is all shook up. Astrology is a language that describes the synastry, the poetics of a relationship. It offers a map for the choices we will be offered as we embrace Love’s Mystery. Science can measure the how. But why we fall into love’s hallowed portal, blouse unbuttoned, hair unloosened in the face of our fears, remains a Mystery. “Nothing is Mysterious. No human relation. Except Love,” writes Susan Sontag.

The poetry of the skies in September reflects the moist soulfulness of our human hearts. The Sun, Mars and Venus are in Virgo this month, highlighting that part the zodiac and our own birth chart, where we must be mindful, wholehearted, discerning of those we invite into our lives. Virgo is the Sacred Harlot. She reminds us  to choose carefully from the smorgasbord of life those lovers, friends, soul companions who hold us gently through life’s storms.

Embrace Virgo’s true meaning by moving into yourself today, stay grounded in your soft animal body. Listen to her whispers.
Love yourself into Aliveness.

You do not have to be good.8c17d2639c4ffd324a00a126b0a88824
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves—Mary Oliver

James Blunt—This Love Again

 

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Between The Shadows

Yasmin Rossi 1In real life, our lipstick comes off when we kiss our lover goodbye. In real life, our noses run and our mascara meanders darkly down our cheeks when the people we love with all our hearts die too soon. In real life, there will be times when we stand alone at the threshold, not sure of who we are or who we are about to become.

In the Middle Ages, Italian poet, Dante Alighieri wrote, “when I had journeyed half of our life’s way, I found myself within a shadowed forest, for I had lost the path that does not stray.”

For many of us, threshold times can be disorientating, painful, even terrifying. We may feel we’ve lost the path, strayed into the shadowed forest of self-doubt after a divorce, a death, or when a beloved child leaves the family home.

The Latin word for threshold is limen. To our ancestors, thresholds were liminal places, guarded by the gods and goddess: Janus, Hermes and Hecate.  As we traverse the space in-between we may have lost our memory of those ancient protective deities as we follow the elusive lantern light of our becoming, through the shadowy dark night of the soul. Yet, even in these modern times, in medias res, in the middle of things, is a fecund state of birthing, where we are required to ask ourselves “Who is the I that stands at this point of no return?”aba9a865cffb499c4699e84ab4067441

Ageing is a threshold crossing so often accompanied by loss and the need to adjust, re-calibrate in the face of irrevocable change.

In the affluent West, the Pluto in Leo generation (those born between 1938 and 1956) are offered a plethora of “anti-ageing” interventions to prolong life and maintain the illusion of eternal youth. Midlife has become a moveable smorgasbord, celebrated in cinema and song and glamourised in specialist magazines aimed at the over 40’s. In a feature entitled Fifty Shades of 50, journalist Lisa Depaulo writes with breathless ebullience about a brand-new breed of 50-plus women—stronger, smarter, sexier than ever, dubbed the New Alpha Goddess. She has a penchant for fast cars and luxury holidays, for travelling solo and for saying “it’s my turn”. The article bubbles on cheerfully, “almost every woman I know over 50 seems to be doing things that none of us were expecting to be doing at our age. We’re making choices, in both little and big ways, just for ourselves.”

69845.ngsversion.1467253661582.adapt.1190.1Demographics and photo-shopped aspirational women’s magazines aside, New Alpha Goddesses were rare in our blood-soaked human his-story—there was no room for a brand-new breed of Alpha Goddesses on Mount Olympus. Despite the sacrifices of The Suffragettes of the 19th and early 20th century and the courage of the Feminists of the ’60s, between the shadows of our politically correct social constructs there exists today the very same polarisation in gender and power that has existed for eons. In affluent societies, many women in midlife and in their elder years live in straightened circumstances after divorce or the death of their spouses. Women still do not, in the main, earn as much as their male counterparts. Women still bear, birth, and nurture the children. Each one of us will have thresholds to cross. Yet not all of us will have the luxury of time or sufficient financial security to say, “it’s my turn” as we support our children through their college years, nurse our dying parents, care for partners whose once virile bodies are failing. Perhaps we might discover that we don’t have the physical strength, the financial clout, the confidence, or even the inclination to be an New Alpha Goddess.  Perhaps we might discover that we’vebee never wanted to travel solo or drive a fast car and that being just who we are is enough for now.

In real life, we mostly don’t die peacefully in our sleep. In real life, we may discover that this is as good as it gets. And so, in real life, we distill the essence, make something magical from the raw ingredients of life: The tender embrace from the one we love. The sight of the bumble bee hovering in the languid embrace of a still summer afternoon. The intoxicating scent that pervades a scuffed city street in Rome. The delightful discovery of a cloud of white jasmine that hangs heavily over an ancient wall.

In real life, it’s time that becomes the most precious commodity. Many men and women enter the second and third acts of their lives with less attachment to fast cars or yet another pair of shoes, less clinging on to the bricks and the mundane mortar of life. More reverence for the here and now.

 “Opposites throw light upon each other”, said the philosopher Schopenhauer. Our lives are animated by the dappled shades of light and darkness, chaos and structure, a cacophony of sound and long stretches of silence. And it’s in the silence that we notice the brilliance of the rainbow as it arcs over the rain-washed sky. And how, quite suddenly, the swallows have returned for the summer.swallows-9926__480

In our life’s transitions, we may find our purpose, our passion. In our ageing and in our dying, we may discover the meaning of Love. And in the shadows of our inevitable parting, we may celebrate the brave brilliance of living our life just as it is. Not because we must continually strive for our “highest potential” and be that trail-blazing New Alpha Goddess. Not because we must walk the Camino to have a spiritual experience. But because we are here, now.

g_bec6c8077020ffa9b2b30918b9acdf17_2_700x600Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life— Mary Oliver

Loreena McKennitt Between The Shadows

 

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Another Love

spring dayAnyone who has ever loved will know that there is nothing  linear or certain about Love. Love can’t be contained or explained. Love has its own circadian rhythm: a sweet scented breeze that shape shifts like clouds on a warm summer’s day then fades like a rainbow. It waxes and wanes like the Moon. Love can erupt as a formidable Force rupturing the structures of our lives, rendering them irrevocably changed. Love burns us in the fire, renders us shining, resplendent and forged a-new. Love is a Many Splendoured Thing.

 

couple dancingWe can’t measure Love the way we measure ourselves:  our attractiveness, our worthiness, our “success”. Love lies in the soft folds of the skin that shelter our elbows. Love lies in the lattice of maturity on our faces. It cannot be smoothed away in the way we smooth lines of anger or worry or happiness with sharp little pricks of Botox. It cannot be cut off or pulled tight in mask-like caricatures of a youth long gone. Love nestles in the warm chambers of our hearts. Love, like Faith and Trust is a Force as indefinable and immeasurable as the Intelligence that throbs and shimmers through the uni-verse.

Popular books with titles like “Getting the Love You Want”, or “Mastery of Love,” mirror a fast-food culture where Love is a commodity that can be ordered, gotten, or kept. love 6 Gary Chapman’s The Five Languages of Love hints at the paucity of language to describe this thing called Love.

In all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to descriptive feeling words. Sanskrit has 96 words for Love, there were 30 in ancient Greece and 80 in ancient Persia.

We use the word, Love, to describe a host of experiences that delight, enthrall, satiate, soothe and stimulate our senses“Our superior function has given us science and the highest standard of living the world has ever known … but at the cost of impoverishing the feeling function,” writes Robert A. Johnson in The Fisher King & The Handless Maiden.

starlings murmurationBut does Love feel the same for us all whether we live in London, in Papua New Guinea, on the frozen arctic plains?  Kristen Lindquist at the University of North Carolina and her colleagues have discovered that  our ability to understand the meaning of words has  a measurable effect on whether we can recognise those emotions in others. The way we speak about feelings might influence how we feel them. Researcher, Tiffany Watt Smith writes in The Book of Human Emotions , “most of us have on some occasion felt the urge to crumple into the arms of a loved one to be coddled and comforted. It’s important and reviving, this sensation of temporary surrender in perfect safety. The concept is not easily captured in English, but Japanese people know it as amae, the feeling of being able to depend on another’s love and help with no obligation to be grateful in return. It helps relationships to flourish and is an emblem of the deepest trust. In the 1970s, Western anthropologists became very excited about amae, claiming that it was evidence that even our most intimate emotions are shaped by the societies in which we live. They argued that Japan’s traditional collectivist culture had allowed amae to flourish.dad and baby girl

So one wonders why those of us who grew up speaking English often fumble when trying to articulate a similar experience. Perhaps this lacuna in English speaks volumes about how hard it can be to accept other people’s support.”

Even though we can’t find the right words to describe what we feel, this thing called Love is what opens our hearts and connects us to our own Divinity. We are changed when we allow ourselves to love deeply and to be loved in return.

To love means risking loss or rejection. To love with our whole heart is to know the hollow emptiness of the ending. Love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah… When Love changes form, we may dare to love again, but it will be another kind of love… “She had … an affair that struck deeply; I believe she loved totally and was loved totally. I know about it, and I am glad… This love, and the ensuing emptiness of its ending, changed her. Of such events we are always changed — not necessarily badly, but changed. Who doesn’t know this doesn’t know much” wrote Mary Oliver about Molly Malone Cook her inseparable partner for more than four decades.

 

older couple together on benchIt takes enormous courage to Love. To fold yourself into the different rhythm of The Other, day after day. To sleep night after night tangled in one another’s dreams. It takes courage to forgive the transgressions, the betrayals, the words that tumble thoughtlessly and pierce straight through our hearts. It takes tenacity to move like patient oxen yoked together, through fields of sorrow and fields of joy.

Anyone who has ever loved will know that Romantic Love, falling in-to love, is not the same thing as staying in love. Writer Mandy Len Catron knew Love after asking 36 questions.

Love didn’t happen to us. We are in love because we each made the choice and chose again and again… and I continue to make that choice without knowing whether my partner will continue to choose me…we want the happy ending… we want someone to love us back. It is terrifying but that’s the deal with love.

Anyone who has ever loved will know that Love is the most profound mystery of our human experience. We choose to Love, again and again and again, even though we have no certainty. We hope for, but know deep down inside there may not be a happy ending.  And yet the warmth, the glory of Love fills us like radiant sunlight. And again and again we turn our innocent faces towards the life-giving warmth that ennobles our humanness.

 

so in love
Relationship Astrology workshops London

nun and rabbi

Lust, Love, Loss and Longingnun and rabbi

Saturday 31 October & Sunday 1 November
The Astrological Lodge of London, 50 Gloucester Place W1U 8EA
10am-5pm

£85.00 per day, or £150.00 for both

Join us for an exciting weekend of relationship astrology in London, designed to be suitable for all. Join us for an exciting weekend of relationship astrology in London, designed to be suitable for all levels. The two days are completely different but are designed to complement one another, so you can choose to do either day, or both. Bookings – ingrid@trueheartwork.com or  email joannaw@otenet.gr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Every day is a Winding Road

Illustration by Julie Paschkis For a while Happiness may be contained in bucket lists or slipped into shopping bags. For a while Happiness may tear through the ventricles of our heart and roar through our veins. For a while Happiness is the sweet taste of our lover’s mouth. For a while it is the brush of their skin.

In his first novel, Le voyage d’Hector ou la recherche du bonheur, author François Lelord writes about the experiences of a psychiatrist called Hector who embarks upon a journey in search of what makes people happy. The book and the subsequent movie (2014)  portray the shape-shifting quality of happiness.

wizard of ozHappiness is as unique as our fingerprints. As immeasurable as the dust that slips from a barn owl’s silent wings. We don’t know who or what will meet us on this journey we call life. We may lose our way on the Yellow Brick Road or discover that the great and wise Wizard of Oz is just a conman from Omaha, Nebraska.

Hector says, “the basic mistake people make is to think that happiness is the goal.”

Many people think that happiness comes from having more power or more money. We live in a world marinated in a collective belief which permeates our lives with admonishments to “Just Do It” or slogans that announce unequivocally, “Impossible is Nothing.”   Simplistic formulaic slogans may sell cars or sports shoes but they cage the human soul, leach our happiness, clatter through the hermitage of our peace. And as Hector discovers,making comparisons can spoil your happiness.

For a while we believe that happiness lies in quixotic pleasures, in things that can be bought and sold.  For a while we believe that we can Open Happiness” when we open a can of Coke. Yet Happiness evaporates in the uncompromising distance that spans polarities – we were happy then, not so happy now. These one-dimensional assumptions about ourselves are embedded in mainstream culture and rooted in the often misinterpreted Herbert Spencer’s phrase “survival of the fittest”.

hansel and gretelHector discovered that “fear is an impediment to Happiness.”

Mostly, happiness often comes when least expected. It may bloom in the unexpected delight of a first kiss. It may pervade our entire body as we watch the sun setting over the coppery rim of the ocean.

For most of us, Happiness is feeling completely alive.

Often our happiness hides in the smallest places in the intimate folds of daily life. Poet Mary Oliver writes, “once, years ago, I emerged from the woods in the early morning at the end of a walk and — it was the most casual of moments — as I stepped from under the trees into the mild, pouring-down sunlight I experienced a sudden impact, a seizure of happiness. It was not the drowning sort of happiness, rather the floating sort. I made no struggle toward it; it was given.”

Happiness is answering your calling.

Hug Me!For a while we believe that happiness lies in pleasing others. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. “I’m taking one day at a time,” the woman says in a voice planed with sharp blade of cutting grief.  Her eyes, the colour of denim jeans that have seen many years and many washes, fill with tears. The thing was, you know, we had our ups and downs over the years, but I thought I made him happy.”

Hector discovers that when it comes to love, sometimes Happiness is not knowing the whole story.

It is in our intimate relationships that our  survival strategies emerge like monsters from fetid caves. When there is already a well-worn neural pathway, it takes time and wholeheartedness to encourage the growth of a new neural pathway, to allow new behaviours to flow through new riverbeds of relating. The old track is always there; the familiar well-trodden winding road.

For most of us, Happiness is being loved for who we are. And yet, as Hector discovered,Avoiding Happiness is not the road to Happiness.”

Happiness, we know, is a state of mind. A choice we make, mostly. Every day of our lives. We may decide to forgive ourselves for something we did in the past. We may decide to forgive someone who has not loved or appreciated us in the way we wanted them to.

Hector discovers that sometimes a long stretch of unhappiness can teach us what it is like to be happy.

For some of us, happiness lies in silence. In switching off the technology that tyrannizes. In shutting out the ceaseless noise and movement of the world and entering the inner sanctum through contemplation or meditation or prayer.

little girl reading

Author Brene Brown spent twelve years of research exploring the relationship between joy and gratitude and says that she never met a person who described themselves as joyous who did not practice gratitude. Gratitude for what is right about the world ushers in more awareness and more mindfulness and invites happiness into our lives.

Hector discovered that Happiness is knowing how to celebrate. And yet how many of us have the courage to wholeheartedly celebrate with presence and joy?

faeries and dance

Benedictine monk, David Steindl-Rast said that “in daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” He suggests: “pausing right before and right after undertaking a new action, even something simple like putting a key in a lock to open a door. Such pauses take a brief moment, yet they have the effect of decompressing time and centering you.”

Happiness, like gratitude, may require an internal shift, a pause to centre and soften. A willingness to open and to receive.  Perhaps just for a shimmering moment this new day, as we close our eyes and bow our heads to our hearts, we can find one thing to be grateful for and smile!

 

 

Sheryl Crow – Everyday is a Winding Road

Illustration by Julie Paschkis

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Only A Woman’s Heart

There’s a virgin’s innocence in the blush of new love. It is a many  splendoured thing. It arrives, flying on bright-feathered wings to lift us off our feet of clay. In  love, we become gods and goddesses. Our days sprinkled with stardust, our nights with butter-yellow sunbeams, our domesticated lives quite suddenly unleashed.

Erotic love is eternally young and naive. It ruffles our hair, heightens our intuition, ignites our creative impulse and supplies life-giving blood to our anaemic imagination. The ancient Greeks depicted Eros as an eternal youth.  This is a love that is playful, unbounded. It stirs, it shakes, it rattles at the windowpanes, then bellows through our hearts on a big wind. In this expansive energy, we stretch our own soul-wings and feel the tender bud of our own blossoming potential.

This kind of love recognises no boundaries, no barriers in time and space. We may fall into love during the dappled springtime or the monochrome winter of our lives. It is our soul’s initiation into the realm of Infinite possibility. Elif Shafak’s beautiful book, “The Forty Rules of Love” is a paean to the power of love that transports, transcends, defies all reason and codes of conduct. So often, there is fatedness about two souls joining, reuniting, at a certain place, in a certain time, to experience the bliss of their Belonging. Great love stories immortalise love in all its manifestations – the madness, the melancholy, the deception, the heroism and the sublime healing. So often the mystery and grandeur of love’s experience meets the cold unyielding concrete walls of practicality or the finality of death. Our souls inevitably lead us across barren wastelands, or snare us in thorny brambles of subterfuge and prickly complexity.  Without the luscious juiciness of erotic Love, our soul’s thirst is fleetingly quenched by love stories in books and movies. Its gossamer wings stretch towards the warmth of a love song that reverberates in the furnace of our knowing. We encounter love in the transcendent realm of our dreams. Love swirls us in fantasy, pricks our hardened hearts with thorns of sadness for what was, what might have been.

Some of us dare to dive deep only once in a lifetime. Some 0f us swaddle tightly in layers of protective clothing. Stay well away from such foolish messy things. We are too busy, too old and too fussy to believe in such folly ever again. So we  remain, ghostly spectators on the mossy river banks, not daring to dip a even a toe into the swirling waters. Wearing our wetsuits of past experience that say “too risky… or it will never last…”

We choose to live low wattage light bulb lives, silently moving through the motions of our lives, barely casting a shadow, leaving a foot print.  “There is life without love, “says Mary Oliver. “ It is not worth a bent penny. Or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied.” She  admonishes her reader to grab their courage, and “ row, row, row, for your life toward it.”

The valour of Love stirred my heart in a beachfront restaurant on Sunday evening. A middle-aged couple strolled past my table: an ordinary looking man holding the hand of an ordinary looking woman.   Except that there was something transcendent, something magical about the way they moved.  In unison they seemed to glide across that floor. Slowly, they sank into their seats at a table facing towards mine, their backs away from the turquoise sweep of sea and sky. With soft eyes they gazed at one another. They loved what they saw. Heads thrown back, throats exposed, soft and vulnerable, they laughed deliciously, often, playfully. They savoured the sweetness of each word, each precious gesture. They hungered to know more as they leaned into each other. Languorously, they kissed, hungry tongues exploring, hands urgently caressing. Oblivious to the setting sun, oily oozing gold-vermillion on the shimmering waves. Unaware of the black-backed gulls swooping low over the kelp-strewn sand. They sat, enthroned King and Queen of Hearts in their timeless kingdom. The food they ordered, the bottle of wine, were incidental props at the High Table of their love. Their embodiment of love graced all our tables that day. Says Thomas Moore: “Our era’s preoccupation with mental hygiene encourages us to think of all forms of mania as disease…Plato’s divine madness is not pathological in our hygienic sense, but more an opening into eternity. It is a relief from the stringent limits of pragmatic, sanitised life. It is a door that opens out from human reason into divine mystery.”

Love weaves daisy-chains, lies in grassy meadows, staring at the dance of clouds. Its delicious languor stretches across time. And yet so often the clouds of fear darken the fierce flame of our Love. Our doubts gather ominously on the horizon.  As we scurry for shelter from our childlike innocence our contaminated thoughts become the words that fly like poisoned arrows from our lips to pierce the heart of our lover, lacerating our own lips. Conditional love breeds like bacteria in a festering wound of fear. It flourishes in a dualistic world where we seek approval, control and security, through our love relationships. Where we sow the poison seeds of destruction in our superficial relating or rigid roles, where we cling to one another in desiccated desperation. Self-growth is self-love. And yet so many of us do not know how to begin to love ourselves until we begin to unearth our buried longings, the playful, joyful passionate parts of our selves. If we are single, we can write out the “wish lists” and visualise our “soul mate”. Yet we will only meet the “right” person when we are the “right” person. If we love ourselves conditionally, if we tame our own desires with shoulds and musts and ifs … we shrink into drab, one-dimensional cartoon characters, separated from Source, from our own Divinity.

There is always one constant in all our relationships: ourselves.  When we are willing to make the quantum leap into a new paradigm of forgiveness, acceptance and gentleness; when we release the fear and shame that bolt the door and imprison us in our sense of separateness, our relationships will mirror our own unfolding spiritual journey. Love is a many-splendoured thing.  If we are willing to adventure with child-like innocence, and eyes wide open in wonder, it will find us just at the perfect time. And we will sparkle, so splendidly.

Eleanor Mc Evoy Only A Woman’s Heart

 

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